How might the world look to anxiety sufferers post lockdown?

Replacing, “Why is this happening to me” with “what is this trying to teach me” Can be a very powerful tool in showing you that there is real power in calming anxiety by slightly shifting your perception.

 

Hello All and welcome to my May blog post.  Firstly, as always, I would like to say that I hope that all client’s past and present as well as followers of It’s just a feeling are as safe and well as you can be during these uncertain times.

During this blog post, I wanted to follow on from the April blog about the current pandemic of Covid-19 and to reflect on what it may feel like to sufferers of Panic and Anxiety as the lockdown period begins to ease and we begin to leave our homes to return to work and resume life after lockdown?

Reflecting on this is tough, we are in new territory with this pandemic and there was and still is a huge uncertainty into what will happen and how will this shape our lives, our freedoms and our previous ‘normal’ or the structure that we had around us that enabled us to feel a sense of safety. Even if we did feel anxious prior to the pandemic to an extent we were used to what we knew.

Let’s think back to when the lockdown was announced. I am not such of each of your views on your feelings at the time, but for me it felt like something big was about to happen and it felt in a strange way a race against time to get what I needed, visit who I needed to and tie up all the loose ends that I was able to before it seemed like everything closed and the world shut down.

Then came a period of adjustment, anxiety and uncertainty. I guess things changed BIG time. Suddenly there was darkness, the world felt quiet while we waited to see what impact this virus had on us, our families, our friends and our finances.

 In a strange way was there also relief that we had a clear guide on what to do, some difficult decisions that we may have had doubt with were made easier for us for example; should I go shopping?, should I still put my child into childcare or send them to school? There was no longer uncertainty here as the answer was to stay home.

The lockdown raised questions such as, what is going to happen? what happens if any of us gets sick? what happens if something else happens to my health, where do I go? all of the questions we had, had no answers.

When we feel anxiety, we often seek reassurance, reassurance that everything is ok, a word from someone, anyone that it will call help us to sit with how we feel and keep our hope but this time no one had the answers, not family, friends, work colleagues, health professional’s or the government, there seemed a sense of panic and a sense of helplessness.

Social media didn’t help, all this did was create a second ‘virus’ one of widespread panic as we were influenced by what others thought would happen, often sharing negative views and constructed predictions with personal assumptions that have no real basis or fact to back up their claims.

The world has already changed massively and affected our freedoms and choices, no longer is it possible to drive for a coffee and sit in or to try clothes on in a shop, to visit the store for groceries without queuing and it has become the ‘norm’ to step into the road to avoid another person or to see people passing or shopping in face masks and gloves.

All fuel to increase anxious and panicky feelings, maybe a sense of feeling trapped.

People in general are not great with change, if we feel anxious feelings while change is happening then that change can feel even scarier. I guess the change in locking down forced adaption to leaving life as we knew it behind and creating a kind of safety bubble at home where we can distract ourselves from the outside world and avoid the news if we need to. Home is an environment where to an extent we are with what we know and more able to control our environment more than the outside world. Even if we feel scared at home, we can handle that in our own way without the shame of others seeing our vulnerability. There is no longer pressure to go to work or to fit around the time tables of others, something that can be difficult when experiencing anxiety. Home even with anxiety can be in a small part a stable non changing environment day to day which helps us to cope with difficult feelings.

The lockdown has generated fears, will there be enough food? Will we survive? Will we lose everything? What if my anxiety get’s worse and I cannot contain it? To name but a few.

 

So where are we now?

 

A friend actually asked me a question today which seems relevant to what I am writing now. The question was:

Do you feel happier and more hopeful now that the lockdown is beginning to ease? Are you excited to go back to normal?

Without thinking I answered:

Yes, in a way, but I have to say that I would feel even better when I know that the things that are easing mean categorically that this is ok.

I meant that although it seems things are beginning to open, death rates are still high and there is still uncertainty. What I think needs to happen before people really relax is that there is some indication that the relaxation does not create further restriction. To remove the doubt that fuels anxiety (also known as the doubting disease)

I am not particularly anxious as I guess that over the years I have learnt to manage my own feelings and find resilience and good coping strategies, but there is still a sense everywhere of needing someone somewhere to reassure us all that in terms of the virus things are going in the right direction, then we can all focus our minds on dealing with the anxiety of re -adapting back into what will be our new normal.

Often anxiety management can be in part about breaking things down into smaller manageable chunks, in a sense softening the noise slightly, so things don’t seem as overwhelming. Relating this to the virus, there is too much noise

  • The virus/illness/health
  • Change
  • Adaption
  • Loss of close connection
  • Uncertainty
  • Finances
  • Career

The above are just some of the noise still around us which logically speaking make our anxiety normal. My thoughts are that with the reassurance that the numbers are beginning to go in the right direction while things are being relaxed enables us to begin to trust the sense that, that part of the noise will quieten and we can then concentrate our energy on adaption and change as we emerge from lockdown. Experiences cannot be erased and it’s doubtful that the memories of this time and the feelings that we have will be forgotten, but that is normal in life and it is through adverse events that we grow, change and develop. Going back to the quote at the beginning of this blog, these types of situations are where the teaching comes in.

Normalise the feelings, they are normal. Feeling de stabilised is NORMAL. Feeling anxious is NORMAL. Having a day where the feeling of uncertainty feels overwhelming is NORMAL whether you have anxiety or not, don’t make the mistake of linking what are essentially normal feelings to your anxiety.

Remind yourself that even with anxiety you are getting through each day even during a pandemic, your not getting through it through some stroke of luck, it’s because you are making the choices each day that help you to sit with your feelings and develop the grit and determination to overcome this. This is your strength, and that strength will help you to work through your anxiety.

 

“Sometimes challenging rainy days have to happen in whatever form for us to experience longer term sunshine” (Michelle, It’s just a feeling)

 

Keep your hope, work with what you have and where you are in the process and limit anything that feeds your fear.

 

Until my next blog take care everyone,

 

Michelle x

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